Anand Singh, the Congress legislator and former Karnataka minister who has kept his party on the edge for more than a year, on Monday announced that he had quit his seat. Anand Singh exit’s would deplete the thin majority of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government that came together last year to keep the BJP out.
Anand Singh’s resignation has sparked buzz that a few more Congress lawmakers who have been unhappy with the coalition and the party’s state leadership could also step down. Anand Singh, a fellow mining Barron of the Ballari Reddy brothers who had gone to jail in the Belekere iron ore mining scam, had quit the BJP ahead of the elections and joined the Congress.
The Congress-JDS coalition had quickly stitched together an alliance last year to keep out the BJP, which had won 104 seats in state elections to the 225-member house. The Congress will be left with 79 seats after Anand Singh’s resignation while HD Kumaraswamy’s party has 37 seats. The BSP and an Independent lawmaker also support the coalition.
As news of Anand Singh’s exit emerged, Congress leader and Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar who had played a key role to get Anand Singh to switch sides from the BJP conceded the Vijayanagar MLA’s resignation had come as a shock to him.
DK Shivakumar is widely seen to have played a key role to keep the legislator on the Congress’s side for months. “I can’t believe this has happened. He told me that he will not quit. He might have had personal problems…. He told me he had some problems,” Shivakumar said, adding that he saw the news breaking on television channels when he was at the gym.
“I’m trying to reach him but I am not able to get through to him… I am shocked,” Shivakumar said.
Around the time that Shivakumar was looking for his party legislator, Anand Singh was heading into a meeting with Governor Vajubhai Vala. He told reporters outside Raj Bhavan that he would explain the reasons for his exit from the assembly to the Governor.
After meeting the Governor, Anand Singh told reporters that he had “resigned in opposition to the state government decision to sell (nearly 3,600 acres) land to JSW Steel in Ballari.
Former chief minister and BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa said he had heard of the resignation through the news and had no further information on it. “I know for certain that there are 20 dissidents in the coalition. We will have to wait and see what they do and take a call on whether to stake a claim to form the government after that,” he said.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, on a personal visit to the United States, responded to the setback to his coalition. “I am watching all the developments from here. BJP is day dreaming to destabilise the government,” Kumaraswamy tweeted.
Anand Singh appeared to rebut this link to the BJP after his meeting with the Governor.
“There is no question of me falling prey to operation Lotus of BJP. I had said earlier that I was ready to resign to uphold the rights of my people,” he said, insisting that his resignation was driven by his conscience and the welfare of his constituents and not politics.